The Hakodate Marathon: a Great Reason for a Canadian to Visit Southern Hokkaido
Last Spring we visited my wife’s 94 Year Old Grandmother in Hakodate. Impressed by the beautiful scenery inclusive of Hakodate Mountain and its famous Million Dollar Night View, the Water Front, interesting shops and fresh seafood we promised to return. My wife and her relatives in Hakodate decided that it would be especially worthwhile if I entered into the Hakodate Half Marathon. The Window for entries opens and closes full with 3000 runners in less than a week. We applied on line on the first possible day and were fortunate to be accepted.
My wife’s Uncle kindly picked up the Race Entry Package before meeting us at Hakodate Airport on the Saturday before the Race. (Hakodate is only a 90 minute flight from the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo.) This gesture was appreciated as flights booked quickly and we only managed a 17:00 arrival. The package included a nice program listing all 3000 runners, race numbers with timing chip, and a rain jacket with the Marathon Logo. (I wore this to the race but morning temperatures were warm enough to warrant short sleeves & we didn’t witness anyone else wearing the give-away the morning of the race. (As if I didn’t already stand out.)
It wasn’t difficult to pick me out of the crowd lining up at Hakodate Stadium. Few runners at the Hakodate Event weighed near my 98 Kilograms nor did they exceed 185 cm in height. Most Japanese Runners observed the Local Race Rules. (It seemed strange to me that no one else listened to their iPod during the run.) My Wife informed me after the 2 hour stride by the Sea that listening to recording devices was prohibited.
They also disallowed any other costume than standard running gear. (We were gratified to witness one A Class Runner dressed in a black cocktail dress and Marilyn Monroe Wig.) Humor is not lost on everyone at the Hakodate Marathon.
Most Race Volunteers were helpful, friendlyand water stations were large and strategically located throughout the race. A nice finishing certificate was offered immediately upon return of the Race Time Chip. The Hokkaido Newspaper also published race results right down to the final finisher.
We peppered our short stay in Hakodate with two nice Restaurant Experiences. The first, a Spanish Tapas Restaurant called the Casa de Norte. The food was Excellent and service Suspect. We tried to order dishes made from local seafood and found items made with squid & octopus especially tasty.
The second venue was a traditional Sukiyaki House with 100 Years of history. The Asari began as a Beef Distribution Company and evolved into one of the best Sukiyaki Restaurants in Hokkaido. We were especially pleased to find a 2002 Beringer Knights Valley (Alluvium) on the Menu at a reasonable price. It complimented the Marbled Kyushu Grown Beef perfectly.
The Establishment remains a Family Business and traditional customs continue to be observed. We were seated at a low table placed on tatami mats and the Sukiyaki was prepared in front of us. I’m not fond of this seating arrangement even without the pre-exhaust from a
22 Kilometer Run. The beef was great. The Experience was Painful.
The La Vista Hotel located in Hakodate Bay was a perfect choice for a short weekend stay. Their Inclusive Breakfast is a full assortment of local seafood served in Buffet Fashion. Salmon, corn on the cob, fresh potatoes and other fish are cooked over coals and served hot. Sashima prepared from local catches is offered with rice and proper Japanese Condiments. It was the main choice of most guests we observed in the Buffet Line Up. Common Western Style Breakfast items were also offered.
The 13th Floor Spa with open air baths and massage services was worth the Hotels’ Price of Admission. In Late Evening it was especially enjoyable to relax in the individual sized tubs and take in the lighted view of Hakodate. The La Vista is designed to service Japanese Guests. Travelers without some Japanese Language capability should be intrepid and patient should they elect to stay for a night or two. We encourage you to try the La Vista and the City of Hakodate on for size.
(Inside Hotel La Vista Hakodate Bay）
Asari (Sukiyaki) http://r.tabelog.com/hokkaido/A0105/A010501/1003362/ (Access Japanese only)
Hotel La Vista Hakodate Bay http://www.hotespa.net/hotels/lahakodate/english_room.html